Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flash Mob!

Ashlee was a part of the first EVER flash mob in El Dorado County today with Foothills Dance and Performing Arts Studio! It was quite neat how the whole thing came about. Flash mob correspondence is only supposed to be transmitted via text and e-mail, so about a week before the scheduled mob the studio owner sent out a link with instructions for the dance on YouTube. Ashlee then had to learn and rehearse the dance at home. They met at the studio last night and today for a brief group rehearsal, then everyone headed over to Regal Cinemas in El Dorado Hills, where they were to perform. The dance had four sections, and with each section new people were added. The idea was to look nonchalant until the dance started, so it appeared that dancers were coming out of the woodwork! This was a lot of fun. Ashlee was in all four sections. Way to go Ashlee!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2 Months Old!

Anthony is two months old today. He looks so cozy and peaceful asleep on my bed, I can't get enough of these pictures.
We had a photo shoot tonight after the kids were in bed.

Look at the big smile I was able to get out of him!
I am still loving these chubby legs and little feet.
Anthony you have brought so much joy.

Under the Stars

Last weekend the kids spent a night out on an airbed on the back patio. We would normally let them sleep on the trampoline in the summer like Forrest used to do as a kid, but since we have moved the trampoline up to the field by our house I decided this was no longer a safe option so they opted for the patio instead. Ashlee brought one of her nightlights out and plugged it into the patio outlet-very cute! I think I saw their flashlights going past 11:00 and they were very tired the next day, but this is the stuff childhood is made of.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Love Letters from Jacob

These are two letters Jacob has given me the past two nights. He handed me this top one late tonight after everyone had been tucked in bed. Just when I think I am about to explode from all the pressure that mounts by the end of the day and the stress of the dinner / bedtime routine, I receive something like this and it melts my heart. Bless them for being so tender and forgiving despite all my weaknesses.

Thank you Jacob. This means more to Mom than you could ever know.


Snoozin' on Mama's bed this morning. I rolled him over for some tummy time, and he fell asleep.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Handwriting Worksheets

I just found these free printable tracing worksheets online. They are probably the best I have found so far, and the website is very easy to use. You can customize and print them up in seconds. I will definitely be using these for Noah and Kaitlyn in the upcoming school year to teach and fine-tune.
Although she is only 3, I will probably be teaching Kaitlyn alongside Noah this year. They are at about the same level academically.
She is picking up her letters very quickly and is very proud in her accomplishment!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

She Gets Around!

This girl's cast does not slow her down. Kids are so resilient. She can't quite reach her mouth with her casted hand, but she seems to do everything else just fine. We are anxiously counting down the days until she gets it off so she can go swimming with us again!

Photo Shoot with Mommy

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Life at 7 Weeks

Time is going ever-so-slow, yet quickly. It's funny how your perspective changes with a newborn. I looked at Anthony this past week and realized how much he's changed. Sometimes I don't always realize it because he's in my arms so much of the time, but he really is growing and changing rather quickly. His face is getting rounder, his eyes wider, and he is definitely more alert. He really likes to focus on faces and strains to look up at whoever is holding him (as you can see in the pictures below.) We love him to pieces.
Forrest loves when he falls asleep in his arms (I think he was laughing at one of the kids in this picture.)

Hello Daddy, is that you?
Noah is my nature boy and loves to be out in the garden. He's always looking for insects.
It was discovered that one of our containers was filled with these little green worms- I was wondering where my lettuce went!
Noah and Kaitlyn liked collecting them for their "pets."
Rachel is quite the handful. She is taking her cast quite well, and gets it off in two weeks. Her newest thing is to *scream* an ear-piercing scream... just for the fun of it. It really drives me nuts and takes every ounce of my energy to stay calm and not react to this. I think it scares poor Anthony out of his wits, as she will often do it when he is sleeping.
I still feel like I am on a roller-coaster, and life is crazy-busy but good. I have started running again, and was able to go out 4 times last week for a total of 10 miles. I have about 15 pounds to lose but figure it will come off in time. With this being my last baby, I'm not too worried about it!

I tried to rest today but ended up feeling really depressed, so I decided to work instead. I really am the type of person who needs to stay busy. I started mopping my floor and the feeling went away. In being productive, I feel happy. I have come to realize that my mood is directly related to the state of my house, and I simply can not let it go. I figure the work will always be there, and I'm the one who will end up doing it, so I might as well stay on top of it!

Being that it is summer, I have been able to enlist the kids in several chores which has been a huge help. I am still working on getting a chore chart in place so that we will be able to maintain it when school starts. I am actually anticipating the start of the school year for the sake of getting some structure back into our schedule. Summer with a newborn isn't quite what it would normally be, and the kids have been a little more idle than I would like.

I really am thankful for the gospel perspective and how it gets me through each of my days, even moments. I do not know how I would be raising my kids without it (I certainly would not have this many!) I was talking to a friend the other day about happiness, and it got me thinking, what is the worth of happiness? To me, happiness can be a fleeting emotion. Life with kids is hard work, and there are several moments throughout my day when I wouldn't deem myself as feeling "happy," yet the work I'm doing gives me a feeling of satisfaction that will be eternal. That is my happiness.

I love my kids and all the reasons they give me to smile in a day. Today it was Noah and Kaitlyn and the worms, and Kaitlyn's little crooked-mouth smile as she held them out to me in one hand and proclaimed, "They're so cuuuuuute!" I love the innocence of children and the way their minds work. I only wish I had more time to soak it all in. From what I hear, this stage passes so quickly! I look at Ashlee blossoming into a teenager before my eyes and I believe it. I can't say I want to slow time down, just enjoy it. Like any other mom I struggle to find the balance between housework and kids and hope I am doing it right. I think by the time I figure it out they'll be gone. I am so thankful for each new opportunity that comes with the rising sun to get it right. Here's to being one step closer! Good night.

Lemonade Stand

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Napping House

Oh how I love when my babies nap together.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chore Chart

I am presenting this to my kids in the morning... wish me luck. What this looks like in theory is entirely different from what it may look like in practice. With Anthony coming two weeks early, I didn't have time to establish a chore routine with the kids like I wanted to. I figure now I have the summer to get them into good habits before the school year starts and we get busy again. I used Steven Covey's advice to "start with the end in mind" from his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. I want to focus not only on the look of the house but also the feel. That is why I put "Love" down in the corner as a reminder. I always like to think of myself as putting "love energy" into the home as I clean (although I am not always successful at this- more times than I care to admit.) If I can get my kids to take responsibility for their portion of the chores without whining, fighting, or complaining, (and Mom doesn't turn into a monster to get them to do it,) then I will count it a success.
I took this picture a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post. Anthony had fallen asleep on Jacob while he was watching cartoons. Looks like dead weight, doesn't he?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Day at the Lake

Today was the perfect day for another walk around Cameron Park Lake. What a cool day for July! Forrest took the kids fishing last night, so today they were all about making their own poles and catching some fish. They got really creative, using old bottle caps and Cheez-Its for bait (need I say, they didn't catch anything?)
Busily tying their lines...
They're were plenty of fish to be seen from the shore, but all too fast for little hands (and not into the Cheez-Its.)
Rachel felt so free walking around on this platform and feeling the wind in her hair.
And Jacob found this friend along the path. My kids never cease to amaze me with the insects they'll hold.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The First and Last 6 Weeks

Well, I once again survived the postpartum period (the first 6 weeks of it anyways) for the last time in my life. Just after midnight, Anthony will be six weeks old. Let me tell you, it is bittersweet.

Every day could be a story in itself. The hormones have taken me on a rollercoaster ride, again, and while one would think that I may come to expect it by now and thus know how to cope with it, this is not so. It is a unique experience every time, teaching me what I need to know, breaking down walls that need to come down, and strengthening parts of me that need to be strengthened. I may have had six children, but I have never been a mother to six children. This is all new to me.

I must find space in my home and in my heart (not to mention my schedule and pocket book) for a sixth child. Thankfully, he is the perfect sixth child, sleeping amidst the hustle and bustle of our already busy home and quietly easing his way into our family. It also helps that he is a fantastic snuggler; I tell you, there are few things in life better than having a snuggly newborn in your bed at night. It makes it all worth it.

I always feel that the speed with which the postpartum period seems to pass (in hindsight) is a blessing in disguise; for this time is so physically and emotionally demanding that I would not wish it to last forever. However, knowing that he is my last child, there are times when I find myself wanting to stay in the moment. He is already growing and changing so fast, starting to uncurl and open up to the world, and I want to slow him down just a little bit. Stay my baby. Stay with Mommy. My older children are evidence of what is on the near horizon.

I have always said that I believe a part of Heaven will be having a newborn to snuggle on your shoulder forever; for the scent and feel of a newborn's fuzzy head is nothing short of heavenly. There is some chemical reaction that occurs in the brain when a mother breathes in her newborn's scent; Anthony, please don't turn into a sweaty-headed little boy too soon.

It's easy to be nostalgic when all the kids are in bed and I have the quiet of the night to pause and reflect. Each day is a struggle; bringing about new challenges and experiences for me to learn and grow from. How will I be a different (hopefully better) mother at the end of this day? What will I take with me into the next? The postpartum period seems to slow down in pace and keep you trapped in time, one seemingly endless day running into the next, and I think the reason for this is that we have so much to learn from this time. It is laying the foundation for our future mothering skills of this child.

Forrest and I can look back and smile at the time when we were raising just one child (I should never say "just;" the first child is challenging) and realize how far we've come. Oh, in these busy days, what I wouldn't give to have a day with "just" one child! To think of all I could get done! But it's been a long road to get to this place. When I started training for my 10k, I didn't go out and run six miles right off the bat. I built endurance one mile at a time.

I look to the future with anticipation, awe, and a little bit of fear. There are so many things I am excited to do, things I have held off on during this season of raising babies, but will they have as much to offer? I have heard so many times from other women that years spent raising young children were the best of their life, and I don't want to leave this phase too quickly. I am anxious to do many things, but I am afraid if I start getting too busy I will look up and this time will be gone. As challenging as some of my days may be, I don't want to wish any of these moments away.

I remember the day the idea came to me that I wanted six children. I can visualize where I was, how I was sitting, what I was thinking. I confirmed it with Forrest and since then I have had that seed planted in me. After Rachel was born, I remember saying, "I'd be okay never doing that again!" yet I knew that if I stopped with her, I would be incomplete. That sixth child would be missing and I would forever know it. Now he's here, they're all here, and the chapter is closed. No one told me it would go so fast.

So I will enjoy all I can, some days more than others, and despite my best intentions know I will find myself fervently wishing some moments away (we still have a couple of toddlers on our hands!) to get through the day. I recently heard it said that the "big picture" is composed of many snapshots. It's funny how with the passage of time the mind seems to filter out the negative, the stressful, and the bad, and preserve only the good in a situation. Hence the nostalgia of our memories. Despite the trials of each and every one of my days as a stay-at-home mommy of six young children, I am sure I will one day look back on these as "the best years of my life." I do try to take snapshots, by writing down cute things the kids say in my journal, taking the time to look at details in the pictures they draw, peeking on them in their beds at night, and watching them play out the window. Hopefully these will be the memories I preserve. There is no doubt in my mind that these children are a blessing, each one of them coming down from a loving Father in heaven, and entrusted specifically in my care. They chose me and I chose them, and the seed was planted long ago for me to have them. I only hope that one day they can look back and say that I was as good a mommy to them as they are children to me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Day for Cooling Off

A quick snapshot from our afternoon. Was there any way to not be by the water today?

She's Been Casted

Forrest took Rachel in to get her cast this morning. It was as bad as I thought it would be. Thankfully she bounces back quickly and was a happy little bug this afternoon though. ;o)

Mama in Training

Kaitlyn loves her baby sling. I can see she is going to be a good attachment parent!

4th of July

We had a great 4th of July weekend. It started with a party at the Bailey's on Saturday night. We were able to watch the fireworks from their backyard, and the kids had a blast on the inflatable slide.
You can see how red-faced Kaitlyn was from all the running around she was doing. I think all the kids looked like this within five minutes of us being there.
I was a little nervous about Rachel walking around with her splint.
A treasure: someone's empty soda can!
Anthony trying to stay alert for the party.
Cameron Park puts on by far the best fireworks show around.
And we had the best seats.
On Monday morning our church held a pancake breakfast and bike parade at Blue Oak school. We look forward to this every year, and the kids have a lot of fun decorating their bikes, scooters, and wagon the night before.
Noah made his own American flag to go on his bike.
Jacob was a little bummed that his bike had flat tires and that he had to take his scooter.
I really hoped Rachel would sit still in the wagon, and she did.
The morning started off with a flag raising ceremony put on by the scouts.
Grace Hegy "graced" us with the National Anthem- beautifully.
Brother Hopson with his singing bear:
And after their tummies were full, all the kids lined up for the parade.
We were glad that our friends the Mattesons showed up to join us in the parade. Kaitlyn and Penny were so cute riding their little tricycles side by side.
Ashlee, Lauren, and Mary.
Daddy carrying Kaitlyn's tricycle after she got tired and decided to walk.
Penny's mommy had just ran a 10k that morning- here she is all a-glow!
Clarkie wanting a turn on Kaitlyn's bike:
And this cute picture I threw in just for fun.
After the parade we hit up Cameron Park Lake for some swimming. We met up with some friends there as well, and it was pretty packed. We came home and BBQ'd some hot dogs and bratts for dinner, then Forrest took Ashlee, Jacob, Noah and Kaitlyn down to a park in Folsom to do fireworks while I stayed home with Anthony and Rachel, who were both asleep after the events of the day. We took a short minute during dinner to explain to our kids why we celebrate. I try to do this with every holiday. It was a busy, great weekend. Happy 4th!